What next for Bernie Ibini?
Ibini penned a year-long loan deal at Sydney FC last May from Chinese outfit Shanghai SIPG who he is contracted with until 2016.
Shanghai, who are managed by Sven-Goran Eriksson, have shaken up their foreign legion this off-season, adding some big names including Dario Conca and cutting the likes of Australian striker Daniel McBreen.
CSL clubs are only allowed five foreign players on their books and Shanghai have one slot remaining, potentially open for Ibini’s return.
Following the death of his father in late 2013, the 22-year-old had returned to Australia, on loan initially at Central Coast, as he struggled to settle in China.
Almost 18 months on, a lot has changed for Ibini who appears open to returning to Shanghai to fulfill his contract but also non-committal.
“I’m not too sure at the moment what I want to do,” Ibini admitted to FourFourTwo.
“I’ll just wait and see what pans out. I’m just concentrating on Sydney at the moment.”
Ibini landed his Socceroos debut following good form with Sydney FC in October.
The Nigeria-born forward has scored two goals in Sydney’s past three games and is delighted to be working with long-time mentor Graham Arnold again.
“I’m enjoying it a lot,” he added. “But in football you never know what’s going to happen.
“I don’t know what the situation in China is at this stage, so I can’t say.”
Ibini admitted one of his driving goals was to play for the Socceroos again.
He said watching the Asian Cup final from home fuelled that desire, having had a taste of international football in October.
It is understood, Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou does not rate the Chinese Super League highly, thus Ibini’s national team prospects would likely be boosted by staying in Sydney.
The former Australia youth international made his senior debut against UAE in October, followed up by another appearance against Qatar days later.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “To go over there and play international football is something different which you don’t get to do every day.
“When you first start playing football and you want to be a professional footballer you obviously want to wear your nation’s colours.
“It was a dream come true. It was great to get a bit of a taste and I definitely want to push to get in the Socceroos again.
“That’s definitely one of my goals.”
Ibini comes up against his former club Central Coast this weekend for the third time since heading south to join Sydney.
The youngster is close friends with Anthony Caceres and Nick Fitzgerald and said the matches were always a bit different.